Sunday, April 23, 2017

Motherhood Brings Joys and Sorrows to Sarah Eva Howe Salyers

On March 22, 1907, one year, three months, and eight days after their marriage, Sarah Eva Howe and William Levi Salyers welcomed their first-born into the world. They named him Robert King Salyers, in memory of Will's brother, who died in 1897 at age 16.

Three years and 15 days later, their family grew by two! Twins James Richard and Mary Alice were born on April 6, 1910.

After another five years, one month, and eight days, on May 14, 1915, another set of twins arrived. Will and Sarah named them David Hillis II (after Will's grandfather) and John (the name of Sarah's grandfather, the Irish immigrant). Imagine the sadness that fell on this family when John died either at birth or shortly after.

Sarah Eva Howe Salyers with (left to right) David, Robert, James, and Mary Alice, circa 1920

Will and Sarah reared four children to adulthood. All three sons went off to war, and all three returned. All four of the children became successful professionals in their chosen fields. All four married, and three gave Sarah and Will a new generation of Howe-Salyers descendants.

The next few posts will share profiles and stories about the four children. I'll have more to say about the three youngest than about the first-born. Robert lived much of his adult life in and around Washington, D.C., while the other three lived in my home state of Kentucky. I saw "Uncle Bob" only a few times, while I knew the others well, especially Mary Alice and David. In fact, in 1966, David became my father-in-law!

I have found scrapbooks created by Sarah for Mary Alice and for David. So far, no luck finding books specific to Robert or James. Sarah probably gave them their books at some point, and they have been lost to us. Thank goodness for Mary Alice! She saved all of the scrapbooks made for her and her little brother David. We'll go through those books together in this blog and, in the process, learn what growing up was like in the first 30 years of the 20th century.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Today's Howe Descendants Visit the Ireland Homeland, 2007

In the previous three posts, we took a virtual visit to Ireland through a travel diary written in 1876 by Robert J. and John I. Howe, sons born in America to Irish immigrants John and Sarah Brown Howe.

Today, we go to Ireland again, some 131 years later, through photos and information provided by Howe descendant Richard Allen Hays. Al is a first cousin to my husband David H. Salyers III, and both of them are great-great grandsons of John and Sarah.

Al has done much research on his Howe ancestry and is my go-to source for details about the family. In 2007, Al, his wife Pam, and his sons Mark and Michael visited County Fermanagh, Fivemiletown (in County Tyrone), and other places with ancestral ties. He shared the following notes and images with me.

Christening Place of John Howe
St. John's parish church [Church of Ireland] in Fivemiletown is where John Howe was christened. He may not have actually been a member of that church,
Al's sons Michael and Mark at St. John's
because other Protestants were required to make births and marriages "official" at the local Church of Ireland (England) even if they weren't members. This is one thing that our largely Presbyterian Scots/Irish ancestors resented and which acted as a stimulus to migration to America.

As far as I know, the church is the same building [in which John was christened in 1823], although I wouldn't want to absolutely swear to it.

A sign offers a brief history of St. John's
According to my grandmother [Sarah Eva Howe Salyers, our scrapbooker], John Howe always proudly declared himself to be an Orangeman, i.e. a Northern Ireland Protestant. Had he been alive and living in Ireland, he would have probably joined several hundred thousand other Protestants in signing a pledge in 1912 to never accept Home Rule for Ireland, let alone independence. Their slogan was "Home rule = Rome rule." The tragedy of Northern Ireland is that these Protestants feared becoming a minority in an independent Ireland that would encompass the whole island, so, with British support, they created Northern Ireland, where they would be the majority. (And would mistreat the Catholic minority there.)
So, I am not sure how he would have felt about the largely Catholic holiday of St. Patrick's Day. On the other hand, in contemporary Northern Ireland, they have tried, with some success, to make St. Patrick's Day a shared holiday among Protestants and Catholics. After all, the Irish never made that big a deal out of the holiday until Irish Americans started celebrating it.

Marriage Place of John Howe and Sarah Brown
Records at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, in Belfast, indicate that John Howe and Sarah Brown were married at the Cavanaleck Presbyterian
(From left) Howe descendants Michael, Mark, and Al Hays
Church, which is located on the outskirts of Fivemiletown. The town is in County Tyrone, but our relatives lived just across the border in County Fermanagh.

Mark, Michael, and I posed for this picture in front of the church. It's not the same building that was there when our ancestors were married, but it is the same congregation. [The church organization continued from that which was in place when Al's second-great-grandparents married in 1845].
Scots or Irish?
As for the Scots-Irish[1] part, it has yet to be determined whether the Howes were originally from England or Scotland. There were a lot of prominent Howes in England at the end of the 18th century; you may recall the two brothers[2] who were generals against us in the War for Independence. (Fortunately, they made some mistakes that helped us win!) However, there is no established line between our Howes and theirs. Our line goes back to Robert, John's father, and the records end there.

When the "plantation" of Protestant settlers into northern Ireland began in the early 1600s, both English and Scottish farmers came over and they were given land by the English nobles who claimed it after the O'Neills (the native rulers) fled after their defeat by Queen Elizabeth's army. The Scots are best known because so many Americans claim to be "Scots/Irish," although I doubt that a lot of people know what that really means. The idea was to put loyal Protestants in control of the best land and push the recalcitrant Catholics onto the poor land –– hence the latter's dependence on potatoes, which would grow on such land. Robert Howe is listed as "farmer" in the records, and from the 1876 diary it sounds like their abode was pretty humble.

[1] The term Scots-Irish appears to be used only in North America. Read what Scotland-born historian and author Raymond Campbell Paterson has to say on the matter at

[2] Reference to General William Howe, commander-in-chief of British land forces during the American War of Independence, and Naval Commander Richard Howe, known early in the war to be sympathetic with the colonists and commissioned to negotiate with his friend Benjamin Franklin to seek reconciliation with those rebelling against British rule. Sources: Howe,_5th_ Viscount_Howe,_1st_Earl_Howe 

The three-part series from the Howe brothers' Ireland travel diary are in posts dated March 12, March 19, and March 26 (all 2017). Al's information sent me back to those posts with a new understanding of the Howes and the social and political climate of their time.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be taking a break from blog writing to enjoy time with extended family. When I return, we'll dig into Sarah Eva Howe's scrapbooks of the early 1900s and discover the joys and sorrows that came with the arrival of Sarah's children.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Visiting the Homeland, 1876 – Part 3: Robert and John Say Goodbye to the Howes, the Browns, and Ireland

In their final four days in Ireland, Robert and John make rounds to see each relative one last time and bid them farewell. Much of the talk is about America, it seems, as the Howes and Browns and their friends want to hear all about what life is like for their kin who live there.

On Feb. 17, Robert and John have said goodbye to their family and become tourists for a day. They visit Bush Mill, Giant's Causeway, and other sites popular with tourists today. I wish we had the rest of the diary to know when they left the Emerald Isle for mainland Europe. What a treat it would be to have stories from the rest of their Grand Tour.

I hope you enjoy these final diary entries about their time in their parents' homeland.

Monday, Feb 14th, 1876

We were aroused this morning by the clock striking 8. Dressed quickly and while the women were preparing breakfast we cleaned and greased our boots and cleaned our pants (the best we could) which had been very badly used. We got breakfast and started off at 9-45 to meet Uncle Geo. Hetherington. Arriving in town we called at the Post Office, found that a letter had arrived for us and had been sent to Uncle Joseph’s. We called at several other places but could not hear of Uncle George. Went into the tailor shop to have a button sewed on John’s coat, while there we spied Uncle Joseph across the street. Hailed him and he came over with our overcoats which he had brought us thinking we would need them for the rough weather. Uncle Joseph then went with us and we called on Mr. Robert Armstrong, one of Pa’s warmest friends, was very glad to see us, went with us over to the church. Just as we had procured the Sexton, Grandpa [paternal grandfather Robert Howe] came up and accompanied us. This was a place of great interest to us and we gave it a thorough doing-up. It is the neatest arranged church that we have seen in the neighborhood. Part of the church is very old, but there has been an addition built on the east side within the last few years, increasing the seating capacity to nearly double. In the new part is a tablet erected by the Rev. Dr. Burnside to the memory of his parents. In the graveyard we saw the graves of our grandmother [Margaret Hetherinton] Howe and several others of the Howe and Hetherington family. Leaving the church and going into town we found Uncle George. Mr. Armstrong now left us, giving us a cordial adieu and wishing to be remembered to ma and pa. We pretty soon left town with Uncle Geo. promising to go to Grandpa’s tomorrow for dinner and  Uncle Joseph’s tomorrow night. We walked out the Finton road through a hilly rolling country nearly 2 miles and stopped at Uncle Geo.’s only son’s (John’s) house. Found his wife a very pleasant and agreeable woman with a large family of little girls and one boy, 16 years old. (She called them “Wains.”) They had a man there doing carpenter work who had been 21 years in America, through many parts of it, took a good deal of interest in “blowing the country” and seconded anything we would say in it praise. We were compelled here, as usual, to take tea and bread finishing up with punch, after which we started over with Uncle George accompanied by his son’s wife, on the way meeting her brother (Mr. Trimble), he says “It’s a rough evening” (which it was); Uncle George then says “These is me America friends.” M.T. says, “I suppose yes thinks this country audd.” The above is invariably with slight variations the style of introduction, salutation, and interrogation which we have met in this part of Ireland. On arriving at Uncle Geo.’s through the mud and snow we found a building of about the same architecture we have met throughout the neighborhood, with horse and pig stalls at one end, cow and fowl apartments
A cow like this one may have lived in Uncle George's house.
at the other, all built of stone and thatched. Ireland has taught us wonderful lessons of economy having seen what scanty comforts people can put up with and yet thrive in health of body. We never see more than a single door to a house and entering into the kitchen, a single window to each room just about large enough to mount a 64-pound canon(?), doors so low that we invariably have to stoop in entering them and are always in danger of bumping our heads against some of the braces of the roof. Find the beds also too short and are obliged to keep our legs in a bow shape There is no way of poking them through the foot of the bed as both ends are tightly boarded up.

Here at Uncle Geo.’s we got a number of bumps against doors and braces. The above is not an exaggerated description of the farmhouses. There are of course, a few modern ones which are built in tolerably comfortable style, but anything like a desire to depart from old customs is very rare. We found Uncle George’s a very helpful household, his daughter Mrs. Jameson is lying in bed with rheumatism and White swelling [a.k.a. hydrarthrus, which affects the knee joint] and nearly all the work devolved on her husband, a stout uncouth fellow, but a very good and agreeable one. Their little boy (John) is 10 years old and the Old Man completes the household. John’s wife got dinner for us which we finished about 3-30 p.m. and she returned home but came back with her husband and got tea (8-30). Uncle G.’s grandson, Wm. McCauley also came in and we all chatted until 11 p.m. when John & wife and Willie M. went home and we retired into a bed in the family room (after the fashion of Uncle Joseph’s) right next to Mr. & Mrs. Jameson and only divided from the cattle by a wall which did not keep out the stench. I must not omit saying that we found Uncle George the jolliest old fellow we have come across in Ireland. He spins his jokes and anecdotes like some of our old Kentucky pioneers making the evening (which was exceeding blustery and disagreeable outside) very pleasant and agreeable indoors.

Tuesday, Feb. 15th

Arose about 6-30, cleaned our pants and greased our boots with melted hog fat. As John H[owe]’s wife had to come over and serve breakfast we did not get it until near 9 o’clock. About 10 we bid the folks goodbye and started off with Uncle Geo. to Hugh Hetherington’s. On our way called at Mrs. Irvine’s where the class meets that Uncle G. attends and whose husband pa was acquainted with. She called up her family, consisting of a grown girl and boy nearly grown to see the “live America boys” and wonder at our watches which Uncle Geo. is very proud of having us show. We only spent a few minutes here and arriving at Hugh H.’s found no one in the house but his daughter who called up the men in a short time. The old man had very little to say, but the boys, Christy and John, were quite agreeable and on leaving went a piece of the road with us. After Uncle Geo. had left his family on the main road to Fivemiletown, he bade us a very affectionate goodbye and we parted. Arriving at town 12-15, we stopped a few minutes to rest and refresh ourselves and then started for Grandpa’s, where we took dinner and spent a short time, Bob [Robert J. Howe] being busily employed gathering items of family history. We bade the old folks goodbye and started off for Aunt Eliza’s about 3 p.m. arriving there 4-40. After a short rest we went over with Sarah to Mr. Taggart’s (the gamekeeper on Sir Victor Brooke’s demesne). Started out with Mr. T. to see the demesne and castle. Went through the Deer Park. Saw the conservatory, laboratory, study, some of the bedrooms, etc., but most of the house was locked up (it being so late in the evening) and the keeper was gone. We saw enough to convince us that Sir V. is handsomely fixed up and must live well. When we got back to the gamekeeper’s house it was quite dark and showering a little. He presented us with a head of deer horns and some other specimens of horns taken from deer killed on the premises. Sarah brought Mr. T. along with us and we arrived at Aunt Eliza’s 6-30 p.m. and found Uncle Joseph over looking for us. We all took supper and then we started over with Uncle Joseph well loaded with articles of different kinds. Bidding Aunt Eliza goodbye, Mr. Taggart accompanied us to the mouth of Uncle Joseph’s lane. Then at Mr. Benson’s Uncle Joseph gave us a lantern to show us light up to the house. Even with the lantern we had considerable difficulty feeling our way as the road was most terribly muddy and we had to climb sloughs(?) and jump over ditches. Bob got one pretty ugly fall across a ditch. We arrived safely, though with wet and dirty Lower Extremities, at Uncle Joseph’s; received and read the letter from Willie [their older brother William] which came last Saturday. Took off our boots, bathed our feet, and put on our slippers. When we had gotten comfortable, Uncle Joseph put at us to sing some for him. We sang a few hymns and he and Aunt Margaret sang some in the old time long note style after which we went to bed (10 o’clock).

Wednesday, Feb. 16th, 1876

Very early this morning we heard a stir about the house and presently Uncle Joseph came to us and asked the time, we told him “a few minutes past four.” He said (wanting to be up in time to let us away) they had thought about time to get up and he and the servant girl were dressed. Said he would not go to bed again but told us to go to sleep. We dozed until about 6 o’clock when he came back and told us it was time to get up. So we did so, putting on clean shirts and collars. By the time we were dressed Sarah Armstrong arrived with our washing. We then arranged everything in our trunk and valises and by the time we had finished packing up breakfast was ready. Sarah and a Mrs. McQuade ate with us. We got the cart ready and things all in and started right away after breakfast, bidding goodbye to Aunt Margaret. We walked down to the end of the land accompanied by Sarah, and Uncle Joseph rode and drove the cart. We changed carts at Mr. Benson’s, taking his in place of Uncle Joseph’s. At the mouth of the land we parted with Sarah; bidding her farewell we walked on into Fivemiletown. Stopped at Mr. Alexander’s but they were not yet in and we left our cards. We called at Mrs. Spence’s, bid her goodbye and took out Uncle Joseph’s Democrat which gave us news up to 29th Jan’y. Overtook Uncle Joseph waiting for us just outside of town. We got in and drove
Uncle Joseph's cart may have looked much like this one.
the cart and he walked. Almost two miles out we met John Hetherington (Uncle Geo.’s son). Leaving him we came to a mountainous country. Uncle Joseph now got in and we took turns walking for awhile until getting past the summit when we all rode. The day proved one of the prettiest we have met in Ireland, though we have had occasional showers during that day and going over the mountains we felt rather cold and uncomfortable.

We arrived at Fintona a little before 12, deposited our baggage at the station, and finding we would have 1 1/2 hours to wait for a train we set out to have our horse taken care of and hunt a place to eat a lunch that Sarah had brought us over in the morning. We got into a public house by a fire in the kitchen and there ate it, when we had finished washing it down with punch. We got our tickets to Londonderry (3d. class), bid Uncle Joseph goodbye and started off in a car. We were drawn up by horse to the junction and there were transferred (in a few minutes after arrival) to the train from Enniskillen. We made very good time and got a view of the towns of Onagh(?), Newtown, Steward, and Strahaine and the River and Loch Foyle on the route, arriving at Londonderry 3-30 p.m. We called up the bus driver and porter of the Northern Hotel, who took charge of us and our baggage and were driven up one of the principal streets and through the wall to the house (a neat brick building just inside the wall) and were shown to a neat room on the 1st floor just overlooking the wall. When we had washed and brushed up we set out for a jaunt on foot to see the sights. Mounted the wall just at the hotel and walked up to see Walker’s monument then continuing along the wall to an old church, went in and examined the old tombs in the yard just on a level with the wall. From this side we had a fine view down the Foyle, but it would have been much better had the weather been clear, which it was not. We continued around past old cannon planted upon the walls which had been used at the siege of 1688. We hunted in vain for the monument and statue to Hugh Karins(?) unless it should be the one in the Diamond (?) to the “Prentis Boys of Derry,” which has no inscription. We walked through most of the city west of the Foyle, passing through some fine wide streets and some narrow crooked ones lined with dirty hovels. After supper we wrote up some back time of the journal and Bob wrote a letter for the Democrat, after which we paid our hotel bill which we must say is the only one on our travels with which we have found no fault and recommend the Northern Hotel, Londonderry, for its good accommodations and reasonable charges. J[ohn] retired at 11 pm. and Bob at 11-30 leaving orders to be called at 5-30.

Thursday, Feb 17th

Were called at 5-45, took breakfast, and started in the car (furnished by the hotel) for Port Rush depot, were driven across the find iron bridge to the east side of the Foyle then along the principal street on that side down the Lough to the depot. The train started at 7 a.m., complimenting Derry as the 1st Irish city we had left without having had a dispute with Hotel waiter or car driver. We whizzed on down Lough Foyle for over 20 miles then inland up a stream, passing through 2 good size tunnels, changed cars at Baleraine(?) where we had to wait 15 minutes and arrived at Port Rush a few minutes after 9, left our luggage with the station master and hired the Causeway Hotel car to take us out to the Causeway for 4 shillings and a fee to the driver.  Were driven down to the Port Rush Hotel (which belongs to the same co. as the Causeway Hotel) in their bus and ordered lunch prepared for us on our return. We started off in the car well huffed up in rug and shawl as it was very chilly, hazy weather. We passed along the seashore getting a fine view of the town and Skerries and Harbor, stopped and looked at Napoleon’s Nose then Priest’s Hole, next Giant’s Head, then arches in the rock. The coast along the road the whole way
 Dunluce Castle, County Antrim, Ireland.  The photographer, Tina Mitchell Boutall of Ghent, Carroll County, Kentucky, was there in the first quarter of 2012 and saw the castle on a hazy day, probably much as the Howe brothers saw it.
is majestic and abounds in beautiful formations cut in the rock by the action of the sea. In a short time we passed Dunluce Castle and went through Bush Mills, admired its beautiful new market house built of black limestone (made blacker with a glossy black paint) and finished with white. We noticed a large number of buildings in this style in Derry and all parts of counties Derry and Antrim and we would further remark in speaking of buildings that there is no preference shown for large stone in the face of the walls, but the stone is placed in the wall seemingly just as they came handy, no care being taken to select them. This applies to buildings in all parts of Ireland we have visited. We also remarked today numerous fancy brick buildings made of beautiful red pressed brick set off in various designs with cream colored Blue and Black ones. Nearly all the stations we passed today are in that style, and the nearer we approached Belfast the more we have been reminded of America. With the exception of Dublin we have met with very few brick buildings until we came to Fintona [in County Tyrone]. From there on we have met them in large numbers – Londonderry abounds in brick buildings.
[At this point in the diary, Robert and John have left their ancestors and begin touring some of the natural wonders of Ireland.]
We arrived at the [Giant's] Causeway 11 a.m. and hired Alex Lafferty guide who for five shillings agreed to show us all the signs of the Causeway to be seen on foot. We could not see it in a boat as the sea was rough. We saw first
© Copyright Anne Burgess and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
the “Giant’s Well” but refused to drink from it, then the Small Causeway, Large Causeway, Giant’s Organ, etc. Climbing by a circuitous route to the top of the bank, we walked several hundred yards and saw the amphitheatre, which is a large semi-circular opening in the rocky cliffs and like all the rest of the causeway on the edge of the sea. The next sight was the Plaskean(?) [Plaiskin Head, pictured here on a clearer day;], three triangular cliffs composed of various formations of stone and red clay and partly covered with the green grass. This is said to be a magnificent sight but as it did not look that way to us, we supposed it was on account of the misty weather.

So ends the Howe brothers' time in the homeland of their parents. From Sarah Eva Howe's scrapbooks and family stories, we know the brothers toured several countries in Europe before heading back home to Carrollton, Kentucky, USA. If you happen across their travel diary – in your own family treasures or in a thrift shop – please let me know. Our branch of the family would love to read it.